The Wages of High Wages

Edouard Manet, "The Waitress"

Tom Lee and Ezra Klein commiserate over the high price of beer in DC:

While restaurants are dropping food prices, beverage prices are still going up. Surprisingly enough, Atlanta — not LA or NYC — has the most expensive dinner entrees. As for the most expensive drinks in America, that’s a non-shocker: “New York offers more highly priced drinks, with Washington DC a close second. A domestic beer costs $3.22 on average in Oklahoma City, $4.13 in Washington DC, and $4.15 in New York.

It’s common for friends of mine to go visit Philadelphia and then come back outraged by how expensive everything is in DC. This is, however, largely a case of the wages of high wages. Mean annual earnings in the DC metro area are $57,080 a year, way above the national average of $42,270. Philly, by contrast, is close to average at $46,410 while Oklahoma City is well below average at $36,880. The ones who really seem to be losing out on this deal are the New Yorkers, whose beer costs slightly more than DC’s despite somewhat lower wages. What I’d really like to see is the full dataset from Intellaprice, then you could make a “price of beer vs average wages” scatterplot.